Membership-Based Business

How the Membership Economy Helped a Bookstore become a Role Model

 

Robbie Kellman Baxter shares a story about her favourite bookstore and how it provides a great example of the Membership Economy in action.

When a Menlo Park bookstore was economically threatened, the community stepped in and created a membership program to improve long-term sustainability. 

Founded in 1955 by peace activist Roy Kepler, Kepler’s Books is a large independent bookstore. After its founding, it quickly became a center for intellectual thought and community discussion for the people living in the suburbs surrounding Stanford University. Over the years, the bookstore moved to increasingly larger locations, until it found its current home in downtown Menlo Park, California. Kepler’s is a neighbor to many of the Membership Economy pioneers featured in this book. After its move to Silicon Valley, many of the most innovative and successful investors and entrepreneurs frequented Kepler’s as a favorite browsing destination. 

By 2005, however, the bookselling landscape had changed, due in large part to the innovations of online retailers like Amazon. On August 31, 2005, Kepler’s Books closed its doors.

 

Read the full article, Kepler’s Books – A Story of a Local Business and the Membership Economy, on LinkedIn.

 

The Cost of Free

 

Robbie Kellman Baxter explains why a free trial is not always the best tactic and identifies three  reasons a subscription business isn’t attracting new members.

Recently, a CEO of a major professional association asked me what I thought of a 30 day free trial for new members.

He worried that potential members would sign up for the free trial, binge the value in that free period and then cancel without paying. But his board was concerned that not enough people were joining and thought a free trial could be the solution.

In this case, I agree with the CEO, not the board, about offering a free trial. Here’s why.

A free trial is a taste of the best you’ve got, which you offer because either:

 

  1. They don’t understand what it tastes like
  2. They don’t believe it tastes as good as you say

 

Read the full article, “Free”​ Is a Tactic, not a Strategy, on Linkedin.

 

Crucial Steps to Building a Subscription-Based Business

 

Robbie Kellman Baxter makes the case for subscription-based businesses and provides a few expert tips on how to take your business in that direction. 

If you’ve been tasked with launching a subscription-based business at your organization, or are thinking about starting your own XXX-as-a-service or XXX-of-the-month-club, before diving in, take a step back.

To ensure a solid foundation, I encourage companies to devote a few weeks (usually at least 2 and no more than 12 weeks) to fleshing out the business case before proceeding. After all, the objective of testing is to assess the viability of the model, make necessary adjustments, and get the green light to move forward at a broader level. Without understanding the business case, how will you, and your organization, know whether you’re on the right track.

 

Details covered in this article include:

  • The business rationale
  • The forever promise
  • Executing the vision
  • The risks of the strategy
  • The early steps, research, and tests needed
  • Criteria for board support

 

Read the full article, Making the Case for a Subscription-Based Business, on LinkedIn.

Where the Subscription Business is Going in 2020

Subscription businesses were a big deal in 2019, so what’s the forecast for 2020? Robbie Kellman Baxter shares her expertise on what lies ahead. 

I’m no fortune teller, but something about the beginning of a new year and a new decade makes me want to start spouting predictions. Actually, this isn’t the first time I have taken a crack at predictions. The final chapter of my new book THE FOREVER TRANSACTION is all about the future of subscription and membership models too.

Here’s what I think will happen.

 

In this post, topics covered include:

  • There will be a right-sizing of the “Subscription Box” industry.
  • Subscription “Managers” Will be Everywhere.
  • Subscription CMOs will swing back toward strategy and away from “growth hacking”.
  • Consumers will start subscribing to the thing itself, not just services and boxes.
  • Big Companies will try to buy their way into the Membership Economy through Acquisition.
  • Healthcare will become increasingly consumer-centric, which will lead to more forever transactions.

Read the full article, Crystal Ball: The World of Subscriptions in 2020, on LinkedIn.